In Your Language

Monday, May 27, 2013

Who do you want to be compared to?

I find that (especially in kids) there is this draw towards doing what "everyone else" is doing. We perceive that things aren't "fair" if we don't get or get away with things that other people get away with. But that's an illusion of the Enemy. He knows that it's our perception of "slights" that inhibits us from reaching our God given potential to do His great work in his kingdom.

The illusions that "same" treatment equals "fair treatment". But that is a fallacy based on the assumption that we are ALL THE SAME (?). And God has a way of changing lives so that we are forced to feel and see from someone else's perspective. I never knew how it felt to worry about a child so deeply- to wonder if I did something permanently damaging to my child until I had my son. Perhaps there was nothing that I did wrong, but more of an act of God moving me to see what I was not able to see before.

In this first week being a new mom (again), I've had a huge roller coaster. It seemed like one thing after another was causing me to really worry about my son.. under weight, jaundice, eye infections... I have never worried about my daughter so intensely and in a drawn out fashion. I find myself having a completely new experience with parenting- one that makes me appreciate things that God wanted me to appreciate.

I find myself telling my daughter: "Don't to the right thing only when people are looking or if it feels good to you. Do it to the glory of God. You cannot hide or lie to him." And I tell my older son: "You are not the same people, things are fair in the sense that they are personalized to you as unique children and individuals. I only want 'one' of each kid."

The newest development in family life is that older stepson has been using the word "Mommy" around me/ for me since his baby brother came around. Perhaps he is opening to the idea that "mothers" come in different circumstances and are blessings. Perhaps he sees the duality in the name "mom"; one as a biological role and one as a living role.

So the next time we want to pull the "it's not fair", let's consider if we want to be categorized with that other person or life circumstance. Who do we want to be the "same" as? Let's say you want to be as "musical" as me, would you take my adoptee status too? We should not consider fairness on one dimension. In reality, we are probably much more blessed than we realize.

I guess it was a day to ramble... as days bleed into sleepless nights for me. =)

Monday, May 20, 2013

What's your style?



As I can compare a hospital delivery with most interventions, having a doula, having a midwife, waterbirth, not having a doula, going through natural birth… I see them as two different worlds; one through a medical construct and one through a woman’s natural construct.

I was na├»ve to think that I could (and planned to have) a natural birth at a place of medical interventions. My slight disappointment was unfounded. The fact that my labor was long and overly tiring shouldn’t be a surprise. The fact that my daughter came out drugged and didn’t cry shouldn’t have been a surprise. The surprise was not being able to see her for an hour after her birth. The biggest surprise was how much I valued having a doula.

Even in my contrasting birth experience at the midwifery, I noticed the difference a doula makes in such a monumental process in a family’s life. What I found missing in the absence of a doula, was augmented by my feeling of transcendent peace and strength that failed to arrive with me at the hospital the first time around. But I guess for me, the doula represented a mother figure that for this particular pregnancy I mourned.

I originally abandoned my body’s sensibilities toward knowing my labor signs because I had so much going on in that “period of reckoning.” But, that morning of MY Birth Day, I was in tune with my body in the same way I knew I was about to birth my first. I combated my societally influenced fears and reservations (pain, being discrete with bodily functions, nudity). My inner birthing spirit told me not to fear; giving me the idea that it would be a travesty not to recognize that I AM the driving power and strength BEHIND (not at the mercy of) the sensations. That at this juncture I was to acknowledge the true force of my female power and align WITH it; to trust that a (MY) body would not harm itself in such a sacred life process. How do we expect progress in labor, or otherwise, if we contradict or counteract our own power/wisdom?

The biggest revelation to me about the birth was that since I did not know when to anticipate the pain of the crowning, I got through it without fear or hesitation. I didn’t have the opportunity to hold back and I didn’t have to put more effort or rein in more “bravery” to do it. Perhaps, it would have been a longer story if I had noticed that turning point. Maybe we should disregard turning points if they impede the completion of our goals and accomplishments.

I was surprised at how much I wanted to kiss my husband during the labor… as if to take me back to the beginning, to reaffirm what we cannot take back- that I have a burning desire for him- body and spirit. My “drug” was the physical touch of my love. It was experience I was hoping for.

I have a better appreciation for my limits and my strengths. I have more respect for the power of my body- one that media and medical professionals tell us we need their product and expertise. I think of people who have gone through abuse and lose touch of their inner power and I’m convinced that they would change their mind through this process we call labor and birth in the re-birth of their soul. It is at the point of giving birth that no one can TELL YOU who you are.

The first time I took it lying down. This time I did it my way; upright in a reservoir of water- the most powerful element on Earth. I was not just an active participant, I steered the process and saw it to the end. I am so thankful that my husband led me through this journey that for him he saw was the best for our child; but really, a woman knows, it was transcendent experience. The best part of all was that he believed in me. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Face the pain

I won't say that I enjoy pain. And I don't embrace all pain. I break it down into- what is worthwhile and what is just ridiculous. Is the pain associated with a goal or a vision? Is the pain associated with momentary reward or future gains? If I walk through this pain, is God going to be proud of me?

The most obvious pain that I face these days is that of impending childbirth. I do not see it as a ridiculous pain. I see it as goal oriented with future rewards and joy. Pain that leads to joy? I raise my hand.

A lot of times we are deluded into thinking that we can circumvent the pain. Perhaps that's where addictions come into the scene, or sins or irresponsible decisions. But when do we ever really escape the haunting of our pain? The nature of pain is that if we don't walk through it- it walks WITH us and IN us. It's like the trash. You can avoid it but soon enough the odor will reach every corner of your house. We must take out the trash.

It's not about our sight; but about our consciousness (even subconsciousness). Sometimes the pain goes away when we repent. Repenting doesn't necessarily mean you have to walk into the pain, but more dissociating with the person who gained (ha ha) the pain.  Pain knows which heart it can choke.

Other times, we are called to walk through the pain; to let it change us and make amends, pay restitution.  Sometimes the key to getting rid of pain is to see where we allowed it into our lives; to see where we CAN dissociate with the discomfort.

Part of dealing with pain forces us to embrace the possibility of changing. Sometimes people refuse to change and drag around the pain as their token of resistance. But change in relation to pain is usually for the best. Some people don't want to face the pain in the presence of others as it is too embarrassing or shameful. What they don't realize is that most people CAN SEE the pain without full disclosure AND if you have been able to hide the pain, chances are you are not holding yourself accountable in other areas of your life as well.

Pain and sin need to step into the light to be best dealt with. The light is meant to be support, to be a source of growth. Growing pains are much more worth the pain of stupidity. And if you are lucky, find a partner to walk you through that pain. To some, that partner is God. To others it is someone who reached out to help and support.

God wants you to feel joy and forgiveness and rebirth! It is a free gift, don't throw it away. Think about the legacy you want to leave behind. Will it be a legacy of pain or a legacy of healing?


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Where do you give your best?

I think there is a sensor in all of us that asks "am I getting the best of you or the leftovers?" When husband comes home looking haggard, the wife and children can sense that he has burned through his "best" at work. When mom stares back at husband with glazed eyes, he can sense that she has spent her best energy (with or without results) on the kids. And, when the kids are getting rave remarks at school and coming home to unleash their angst, parents get the feeling that they are getting the leftovers of the child's pleasantness.

Why do we give our best to people we don't have to see on the weekends? Why do we give that ration of pleasantness, connection and cooperation to people who aren't going to worry about our future and our present needs? What triggers this irrational behavior/desire?

What if we budgeted our energy out to all of the areas of our life that deserve some of the best of us? Or how do we turn around that spent feeling and mentality when we are around the people who love us the most? How do we budget our effort so that we never have to say "I have no more to give." That sounds so despondent and hopeless...

What about giving our emotions boundaries? Like if it's Mother's Day, we will use restraint and give an extra amount of grace to the mothers in our lives? Or the same for Father's Day, for that one day, lay down your reservations toward your father and strive to find new appreciation.

When my Father died last month, I had some residual epiphanies land in my consciousness. Perhaps my memory is not completely accurate, but to the best of my ability- I cannot remember my parents fighting over the way they parented me. And I believe that really helped me to feel secure in how they were raising me, I knew that most of their parenting was in my best interests just based on the fact that they were in agreement. Also- I remember the marital complaining only to be one sided; I don't remember my father ever bad mouthing my mother to me in her absence. And I am thankful to have that realization. Those two things my parents never stuffed in my face, but after years and years, I realized two more things that they did right. Not to say they were perfect; but is it really fair to expect perfection out of anyone?

As I put my efforts into marriage and parenting with reading and studying, I wonder: did my parents read marriage books together? What did they do that led them to be so faithful in those two areas that many parents these days struggle with? I know my father traveled a lot, so I doubt they had much time to read together.
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Perhaps we don't have the energy to give our best to our families when we come back together each day. But, perhaps this is the best time to "cherry pick" through the things we like best about my loved ones and let that fuel the time together. Memories seem to give us instant rapport and good energy. To an adoptee like me, I relish all of the good memories I have because I know what a loss if feels to lose them. Memories are as sacred as the way people who are born and pass away. They are held in the mind and the visceral, and once they are lost- they can never be repeated or accessed again.

So- if we can't perfectly give our best to our families all the time, let's do our best to "cherry pick" our attitude towards one another and let that fuel the rest of our days together. We still have the weekends and holidays...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The discipline of not wishing...

I learned this at a very young age. I realized the limitations in my life and instead of rebellion against them or demanding them to come through- I just stopped wanting certain things. I guess it was a process of learning to accept what was in the cards for me and what was not in the cards for me.

I remember feeling resolved to not ask for company. I remember not bothering to wish for a reunion with my biological family. I remember not asking for things that weren't offered. I think I understood "no" to really mean no and I didn't force the issue. Perhaps that was my problem in a way. I submitted too easily. I never felt entitled to anything and to this day, I feel guilty about getting anything... help, gifts, etc.

I remember having to navigate the rough waters of my teenage years pretty much in isolation. I went to a therapist who didn't seem to do much other than talk to me about kinds of rices and teas... nothing really seemed to be helpful in the sessions. I guess I decided there that if I was going to get through this it wouldn't be because of this shrink and that I'd probably end up doing it on my own not knowing how to actually do it in the first place.

I guess I just learned at a very early age that people were not reliable. But at some point, you start getting more of what you expect or don't expect out of people. People usually follow the path of least resistance or most reward.

So that was the double edged sword for me, I swapped disappointment for being content with subpar conditions. Why is disappointment so huge for me (and other adoptees? people?). Every time we feel disappointment, we adjust our standards so that we don't have to feel the pain of disappointment (at least THAT same disappointment) again.

But does that strategy ever work? Can we ever say that "this person failed me in "x" way and it's okay to say it?" But usually, we avoid further interpersonal discomfort by attributing it to us having "unrealistic expectations." The illusion that if we take away all expectations we'll be better and happier people. If we look at expectations from the perspective of them coming from our needs, why would we starve ourselves of NEEDS? Is that fair to say to another person "Listen honey, don't expect me to care about your needs. But on the occasion that I do, give me as much credit as possible."? Would we really forfeit expectations on us for the same prospect of not getting our own needs met?

Let's keep in mind that  it shouldn't be a double standard. Do you have double standards?



Saturday, May 11, 2013

As though I just appeared...

Perhaps I could relate my existence to the Cambrian explosion. One minute I'm not here and then the next- poof! It's the philosophical question of what was the first "cause" if we believe in cause and effect.

To me, I think of Mother's Day and Father's Day in a similar way from my role as a "child." I have no knowledge of a romance, relationship, marriage, pregnancy. All I know is that one day I "was." And I don't even know what the other half of me is. So perhaps, one day I was "half of me" and another day I found my other "half"? I have no evidence that I was ever a newborn other than "records."

Was my Korean mother a "Virgin Mother"? I am not that naive to run with that idea. I do know that humans start in bellies and grow from babies. And since I'm a human, I know I used to be in a belly and WAS a baby despite my lack of proof and stories to company my history. My life feels like a "Fringe" episode and I need Olivia to help me figure it out... or do I need to know all the details? Would they be too upsetting? Did I get shot up with Cortexaphan?

I guess there is where my brain is primed to believe in Jesus and the Almighty God. I have been asked to accept so many "pieces of my life puzzle" without proof that what's the huge leap with believing in salvation through Jesus? I've had people bad talk me without knowing the whole story... without giving me the decency or the floor to speak my peace. It's my story and I don't even know all of it, what makes them think "they know" better than me? That's why you just let it go. There is wisdom in "suspending judgment". And that is a huge part of embracing the faith; "suspending our judgment" in exchange for the unlimited wisdom and guidance of God's judgment.

I remember the moments where I've suspended judgment and have been wonderfully surprised. When we judge we deny our ability to connect/identify with another person. Even without knowing you, I know you have a rich story, an invaluable future and the ability to heal. That is enough for me to like you, value you- right now, without knowing anything else.

The fact that we are not alike is the Enemy's tool to interfere with our ability to connect and heal each other. As if there is a person out there that is totally like us; it is a delusion that we hold in our heads. There is no healing outside of a relationship with our God, or for non-believers, without fellowship.

This holiday, I pray for all of the "children" out there to feel the love of our Ultimate Parent- our Loving Father in Heaven. He will step in the gaps that we have in our Earthly life if we invite him to. He will be the strong and tender arms of the parents we lost to abandonment or death. I might not know my Earthly story, but God knows my eternal story... for that, I am blessed.






Friday, May 10, 2013

Egg Noodles...

Thumb sucking... "blankies"... teddy bears...

What happened to being comforted by people around us? Why is everything so impersonal? Are we failing our kids and each other that we have to emotionally eat for comfort, drink away our pain, press our oxytocin  pressure points as if we're getting real physical connection? Why are we okay with this?

For me, I have been starving for comfort most of my life... to the point where, I never liked sucking my thumb, blankies were awkward as talking to my parents, and teddy bears would fall overboard on my sailboat. I think the only thing I really found comfort in was writing (oh that's just cold) and my dog Murphy (personifying an animal- God bless him).

I know I'm not the only one. But this came up in my session with my Christian counselor. She said "where does all of this fear come from?" And without a specific childhood event, I think my fear came from perpetual lack of comfort in times of stress. And that's the caveat for your kids who are pleasers: they will many times starve themselves of comfort at the "reward" of being "the good child." Watch this closely... I know, I WAS ONE!

So my point is not that I'm blaming everyone in my life, I saw fruits of that pain - "oh what a good child she is" and tried to use it as a substitute for human comfort. And now, at thirty three, I'm sitting with my counselor realizing where I've gone wrong. And to some degree, I lean on my husband for my comfort. Thankfully, he steps up for me and shows me emotional mercy.

I'm not assuming I know everyone's situation, but I would keep an eye out for children who do not seek comfort from adults. They could be those "pleasers" like I was or they could be kids who have lost trust in adults to comfort them. We live in a culture where we try to substitute parental supervision with electronics, or tv, or bribes. But there is no substitute for human contact. Our brains require certain amounts of involvement at crucial developmental stages, or it won't fully develop in the structural hierarchy that it is meant to do with adequate interaction.

Dr. Bruce Perry wrote "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog." It outlines his clinical work with children with varying degrees of trauma in their past and he combines their personal histories with the footprint left in their brains via stunted development (shown through behaviors/disabilities and also brain scans). Some people are not aware, but for many years, Romanian orphanages had a high mortality rate in their orphan babies due to lack of attention and physical touch. Once the caretakers started holding the children more the mortality rate declined- not surprisingly.  Even American researchers, the Harlows, noticed that baby monkeys would prefer a wire monkey with fur over a wire monkey with a bottle of food.

I don't think there is a quick fix to this societal problem. But the first step is always awareness. I have written a research paper on how autism (the awareness is astounding) can mask attachment issues as studied by Dr. Bruce Perry, email me if you're interested in reading my amateur paper at merejasmin@gmail.com.

And where we've come up short (which we all acknowledge if we are believers in Jesus Christ), we can give each other grace as we repent of our ways. There are many pathways to healing as children and adults. I just urge you to find them. God bless you!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Distance makes all the difference...

Something really hit me the other day. I wondered why people could find me so abrasive online but moderately pleasant, may I say it- or even pleasant in real life! Imagine what people decide to think about me without ever meeting me in person! There's nothing to lose exactly, unless the person cares to have a genuine perception of me.

Now that the marriage equality campaign has died down, I feel more open to talk about it in retrospect; from the angle of the emotional responses I got to my posts. My mind was wondering why so many people were misconstruing where I was coming from. I was making efforts to bring new things to the conversation from a blatant point of view of an adopted person who is also Christian. I would not call myself a holy roller, but I do stick to my beliefs whether or not people agree or approve. I don't expect others to join in... that was never my expectation.

Now- I am finishing a Literature class on campus and the professor is without being "open about it" lesbian and has been open about encouraging us to read materials with homosexual content. I wore my cross every class and was open about being Christian without preaching. Despite my awkwardness with this content, I took it in stride and tried to understand that perspective more. I also appreciated the fact that she wanted us to increase our awareness of sexual violence. I was respectful and gained her confidence in me as a honest to goodness person- even me in my full pregnant glory. She has made very pleasant comments like "I know you got this, Meredith" and I took her joking "Don't have the baby in my class, Meredith" in stride. I was even able to write a journal entry that disagreed with her prompt- but rather than negating her idea, I brought up that perhaps the bigger backdrop was of the drinking culture. I'd feel more than confident that this lesbian professor would write a great letter of recommendation for me if I asked her to.

On the other hand, there was another female student in front of me that said some very inappropriate things (I call them less offensive and more making her look like an ass) and she was brought to the college administrative council and kicked out of the class. I saw this particular student as invoking anger. She clearly did not shut her mouth at key times.

There is this illusion that the internet is sufficient, or second hand knowledge is sufficient to make our own decisions on other people. Perhaps that is why I usually refrain from getting involved with politics. There is the real person- then the "managed impression" of the person on the ballot. I am comfortable liking people that other people don't enjoy. I clearly had a different experience with that particular person... but I'm glad I didn't take someone's word for it.

Even in my online discussions for college, I tend to try to add some new thought to a debate or discussion; it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm more gungho on a topic but that I don't want to be redundant and want to broaden the conversation- for intellectual content. I'm not a "jump the bandwagon" person. I'm pretty confident that if you knew me in person or even in combination with online, you'd get the most genuine impression of me... take it or leave it. I actually enjoy our differences. =)


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Waiting

I thought that if I waited long enough that I'd be able to patch things up with my adoptive family; then my father died. I didn't bank on it happening but I was open to it happening... sometime. Now it is a "never".

I thought that giving the best of me, would change hearts... and so far- the same. I guess I still have some time. It's not at never...yet.

I thought that I could encourage labor because I'm "big enough" and I wanted it either over before the busyness of May or for it to wait after the busyness. But- so far, obviously, I have not had any effectual influence over any of it. I have to accept that my life will just be trying and chaotic for a time... hopefully only a time.
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We all know we have to wait and we try to bribe destiny with "decided patience." But destiny hears no bribe. And, God's will and timing is not influenced by our selfish desires, as well meaning as they can be.

At this point, I feel at the mercy of God. I have three finals left and I have not idea if I'll be doomed by surprise labor and delivery recovery making it difficult to study or take the test. I don't know how it will pan out, despite the amount of preparation I've put into pulling everything off. It seems like the three things I worried about went just fine, only to have a different "kink." Go figure.

So now I'm trying to bargain with God: if you are making me wait longer (uncomfortable and down to one pants I can wear... misery of my ego) I'm petitioning that the baby waits until the weekend of my birthday; after school plays, holidays, finals and birthdays. I was wanting baby to have his "own time" without piggy backing on any holidays or other birthdays. But again, not my decision; I am required to submit and obey.

I'm feeling the boundary of my limits and realizing that I have more limits that I haven't even considered. It's defeating. It brings me to my knees. It makes me need to pray to my Almighty God. And, honestly, I don't FEEL like praying more than I have. I feel like I have already reached my capacity for performing in every area. It's tiring... and I'm going to add on parenting a newborn.

Is this God's last call to me to truly surrender? I ask this because I feel that being adopted is the biggest call of surrender that anyone could submit to.
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This pregnancy has thrown me so many curve balls... I'm exhausted. I'm ready for it to be over. I want a period where I can coast and rejuvenate, where I don't have to explain myself.  At least to Gabriel, he won't make me prove myself anymore than any other person in his life. In fact, he might just accept me for who I am- God willing.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A common pain

I watched a Youtube video about an adopted female who had a very troubling childhood. It had nothing to do with her parents (praise God), but everything to do with a cold world and people who were too busy assuming things were "normal." She never "asked" for help, though her anger TRIED to speak volumes. She said many lies, to tempt others to get her to tell her ugly truth. She gave away her body, the same way her abusers did. She abandoned her self worth, the same way her abandonment had taught her so long ago.

Some people will try to group these "problems" as coming with the adoption, or a "normal" growing up story. But how did we get so insensitive to other people's pain and nurse our own? What happened to survivors ushering/mentoring younger ones through similar storms. What if YOUR pain was God's call to help someone like this precious grown lady?

She was left to conclude that this is what GOD meant her life to be from the way her earthly biological parents started this snowball of pain. And then when her adoptive parents couldn't know her heart to see her signals crying out for help- she, like many of us, felt very alone.  Nothing feels worse that being around people yet feeling totally alone.

She said she was bullied so bad in her teens that people would follow her to her door screaming at her and swearing at her, they vandalized her house and knocked the mailbox off the post. I thought I had it rough, but honestly this girl experienced social trauma to a greater extent that I have. I just don't understand how people can justify being so evil as to torment someone to the point they wanted to die.

The irony of the situation- where her biological mother's life fell apart at her birth- it was her own teen pregnancy that saved her from her destructive path. God gave her the gift of a baby girl to ground her to earth and the real sense of family. And with this impetus, she was able to break the wall down with her adoptive mother.

Ironically again, it was with the birth of her second child, that she and her parents patched up a misunderstanding that was at the heart of their relational chasm. She was lied to and believed that her parents knew about her sexual abuse but since her parents never ministered to that pain with her, she was so angry at their lack of concern. It turned out that her parents were not aware of that and they felt so regretful for not being able to help her through that back in the day and they totally understood her emotional storms in this enlightening yet horrible context.

And, this is where my adoptee pride comes in. Give an adoptee anything, and they will make it gold- at least to them. But they just might make the world better. They just might help us appreciate things we take for granted. They just might be the kind of forgiving people who can bring you into a relationship that surpasses the bounds of DNA. Give them a baby- and they WILL parent to the glory of God (whether they believe in him or not).

This also reminds me of another girl in Australian, another adoptee who became a teenage mother... and to see the powerful transformation happen in her... in them... just gave me such hope. Thank God for adoptees!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Today, I tell someone else's story...

My pastor has been very open about his family and his own struggles. It makes him a real person who faces the similar temptations and struggles as everyone else. There is no condescending speech coming from his mouth. The thing that really touches me about his story is the way he talks about his mother.

His mother was not a perfect woman. But he talked about her strength in her struggles. After her second child, she came down with severe depression. It was so bad that she was put in an institution and they treated her with electro-convulsive therapy. She was in the institution for six months before she decided that the only way she was going to "get better" and be able to be with her family is if she (with the help of her Christian faith) acted better and better. There was some clarity in her motherly brain that said that being away from her family was not excused by her mental condition especially if she was going to surrender to the depression. She decided to surrender to her faith to God instead.

It turns out she did turn herself around. She came home and went on to have 4 other children and a very long marriage. I just can't imagine having so much inner strength and strength of faith to battle depression (and perhaps psychosis) for the rest of her life and not being overtaken. I have so much admiration for this lady. I have no doubt that things never got any easier based on her decision to fight her mental demons but I admire that she fought her good fight. She died an old lady washing her car... she wasn't going to let anyone stop her. God bless that lady for leaving a story that would embolden other people...

There is another person that I can think of that really changed my mind about mental illness. I picked up this book, Prozac Nation, written by Elizabeth Wurtzel when I was 21 at the local Barnes and Noble (my favorite store!). The book was based on her real story about her battle with depression. She was no ordinary girl, she went to an Ivy League University (reminds me of me) and  her depression worsened. She was on Lithium and a bunch of other drugs to treat her malady. And it seemed like nothing worked.

Then one day she realized, that she was giving depression the power over her and making it a bigger monster than it had to be. And she also realized that it wasn't just her problem, but that many other people had the same struggle- many who were not going over the deep end like she was. Those two thoughts were enough to jar her out of her passive way of dealing with  her own mind. She was set free in a way. She came to the same conclusion as my pastor's mother. Thank the Lord!

I have to admit. I've "gone there" around the same time as Elizabeth. I was at the epitome of my life - studying at Cornell University - whole future ahead of me and I let my depression and my past just bring me down. And perhaps I had a lot more to learn because it took me a decade to get back to where I was (not even the same "place"). But the one thing that I can proudly say is: that for the most part- I put myself back together- ALL BY MYSELF. I didn't have family or mentors around to prop me up. A solo trip is so much longer than one supported by others. But one thing that also made my journey longer was that I failed to lean on God until the last leg.  Perhaps God was all I needed to prop me up and propel my journey a little fast.

I'm just saying... when we indulge in our mental baggage, we are stealing from another area in our life- be it relationships or a career. I'm speaking from my own mistakes. I'm saying, if your kids are going to see you depressed- let them see you fight it. If you're poor, let your kids see that you are busting your butt to get out of the poor house. If you are have an addiction, let your family see you struggle to loosen it's grip on your lives. I'm not saying that you need to feel ashamed- because like Elizabeth realized... we're a NATION of depressed, weighed down people! I'm saying that if you can, show others how to rise from the ashes. And if you can't do it by yourself, have the courage (that I never had) to ask for help. Lay down your ego and ask for help, even if you start with our Heavenly Father.

I see a future for you. Make a jog or even a run for it! May God propel you to a better life and healthy mind. God Bless!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Do we HAVE TO argue about everything that we differ on?

There is this unspoken standard that we hold over our relationships: I'd be more loving and agreeable if you'd be more like me. And: our differences are grounds for me voicing my unhappiness.

Well, news flash- we were MADE differently, on purpose. We have been feeding ourselves lies so that we don't have to "die to self." There will never be a minute or day when we all agree on everything. I don't think that destroys my day to know that someone has a different thought- that is my expectation.

The second part of that relational lie is that we are PURPOSEFULLY different to make each other mad. FALSE. We just are... unique and different. It's not bad unless we choose to see it that way.

The problem of differences is that it highlights dominance- who gets their way most of the time, what is their behavior, their age, their status. Differences should inspire variety and sharing.

There are some things that can override differences: roles (parent versus child, child vs child, birthdays vs. non-birthdays, and who's paying).  The natural flow of dominance would be parent makes decisions not to be overthrown by child. A well behaved child should not be snubbed by another child's misbehavior. A birthday child should not be stomped on by another child on their special day. And, lastly, God forbid- the buying person gets to call the shots! Now- parents, you have both the parent card and the money card. USE it!

When one person finagles their dominance (outside of the structure mentioned above), this leads to relational disorders, namely co-dependence. It's NOT A GOOD THING. It's the thing that is usually a symptom of addictions in families. My humble opinion is- don't invite that dynamic into your home.

It is OKAY for a parent to say "You know, I know you had a different thought- but I'm going to make the decision that is best for all of us. I'm not able to make EVERYONE happy at once. Bummer that it happened to be you that is not happy about this." This is not a popularity contest. There is no reward for preferring a person... just the lack of momentary tension... that's it. And, it is NOT OKAY for a parent to hand over their power to a child.

To handle differences, we can dispense some grace. We can take on the attitude that even though they do it differently, they come the same results and appreciate things done for us.  If someone offers to make dinner, don't criticize their difference in making it. Often people only do as much as they can within their abilities and not as an affront to anyone else. We are all differently abled. If I'm the only one around to help with homework, but the preferred person is not around, then give me grace that I am trying my best to help. You get the idea. I feel like anyone who shows initiative should get a reward, if not grace for not doing it someone else's "way." Don't tell a woman "my mother does it this way..." (does anyone hear an alarm?)

If we want to claim that we hate conflict, how about we start with accepting our differences? Or, own the fact that we are part of the problem. I wish that for one day husbands and wives could appreciate their differences as gifts from God; and that children would not get all bent out of shape that their parents don't think like or kowtow to their appetites. Even "disagreeable" parents are blessings from God. Ask an orphan like me. Enough said. =)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tears for a mother...

As I think about bringing new life into the world, I'm excited and honored. Yet something just grabbed at my heart today... realizing how many babies are NOT with their mothers (and fathers): not just babies, kindergartners, middle schoolers, high schoolers, young partying adults and parents themselves.

I suddenly felt unworthy to be taking the place of anyone's mother. To be so arrogant to say that I could do it better than the mother (not that I did). And I could argue that some mothers aren't always the healthiest for their children... but who is (ever)? To see the devastation in those kids eyes... a feeling that they lost half of who they are. A shattering of what they once thought would always be there to comfort- the same way the naked skin warms us right after birth. No baby connects with the incubator- even that baby knows they are missing something.

I think about the children that I was left with. The precious beings that I never planned on mothering on my own. I cry out to their mother- their maker. My heart is broken for you... for the kids. Please just come back together. I promise I will be your partner in this and respect your rightful place in their lives. Out of my love for them, I'd do anything to bring you back. Because I know the pain of being a mother away from her child (even if for a few days); because I know the pain of a child not being able to run into their mother's arms.

I'm surrounded by all of these broken spirits in the world and feel a compulsion to just put the puzzles back together. To blow on the reunited puzzle as if to obscure the permanent scars of separation. In this moment, I don't want those two kids to be happy they are getting a half-brother. I want those kids to get a brother AND their mother back. It's just not fair to them.  And I embrace their torn feelings at a time that could be joyous.

On National Day of Prayer, I'm just brought to my knees praying that God would redeem these bonds and relationships in his greater plan- and if it is in his will, that he do it very swiftly. I feel like the fact that we live in a country where half of the kids are born out of wedlock is just unacceptable and out of God's vision- for the kids' vision. I pray that God breaks our heart for what breaks his. I pray that God heals and restores our minds. I pray that God brings us all to our knees to die to ourselves so that our relationships can live on. In his Holy and Powerful Name, I pray. Amen.


National Day of Prayer

[I have many things to do today.  But I always get this feeling that I need to pray or write devotions BEFORE I get to my "to-do list." I usually do a  Youversion devotion online, listen to a Christian radio broadcast, read from my two current Christian books... and write something (usually with a Christian theme) to kick off a productive day. But most importantly, I do most of this before I interact with anyone in the house... for their sanity? LOL]

Today is something I am enthusiastic about. My whole childhood, I was left to mostly talking to myself, writing to myself and writing to the universe of sorts. I used to feel like the only person who would ever hear the words of my heart and soul were my pets and the paper.

I spent so much time alone, I wish I had used at least part of that time talking to the Lord. And now with life being so busy with family and college work, now I have to be so intentional about carving time for that vertical relationship (not my own phrase). I missed out on prime time with My God.

If I had known that the Lord would have been listening, I would have felt free. I don't recall anyone within my Catholic upbringing showing me how to pray outside of Hail Mary and Our Father. Someone to show me how to intimately pray to my Father Above.

It's not that I think my words are spectacular or powerful. But I do to some great level (though not completely) understand the power of invoking God's will. So when I talk to him... when I pray over people, I know it will be my last step and the beginning of God's task with his boundless power to fulfill that prayer. My prayer is a catalyst for God's intervention. I cannot change a heart, but God can with my urging. I cannot change myself without inviting God to carve the unsightly from my character and being. I can't even know how to act righteously without asking for God's leadership and guidance.

I have come to appreciate God's answers to my prayers. He answers in his own time and expects me to be observant and open to his presence. I can honestly say that I've felt other people's prayers bless me and my family. I used to think it was so cheap to hear "I'll pray for you." But, now- I feel the love of the person and the Power of God behind that phrase and it comforts me.

Prayers says: I know I can't do it alone; I know I don't have the power; I know I don't know enough; I know I have no place to change others; your will God, not mine; it hands over my words to the censorship of God rather than of man. But it does communicate our sincere intentions for positive change, love and God's will for life on Earth and in Heaven.

A prayer is like offering someone a fantasy. Like some parents resort to doing in Nurturing Parenting theory, offer the fantasy to the child to break down the conflict: "I wish you could be healthy and only eat cookies for  meals. Wouldn't that be great?" "Wouldn't it be great if there was no such thing as homework?" It's knowing where our power ends and where something beyond us (God- if you will) takes over.

So today, don't do anything fancy. But if it is in your fancy, say a prayer over our country, over our families, marriages, economy, politicians, school systems, healthcare systems, animals and the condition of our own hearts. It's not about my or your position- you're invoking power beyond us. It's that easy and it brings our anxious hearts a little closer to peace.

For me, I'm going to pray for my future grandchildren, future daughter and son in laws, nieces and nephews. I going to pray for the roles that I will be assuming in life, that I may fill them to God's satisfaction. I'll pray for our relationships, for redemption, for healing. God bless us all as we have never needed his blessing more than this day in OUR COUNTRY.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

This time, I am not sorry

It seems to me (at least), that opinions are the most FREE and cheap things that America offers. People who know nothing about a person or matter will feel free to bulldoze a line of thought. God forbid, you disagree. I cannot calculate what particular words will offend or make another person feel convicted of a transgression. My purpose is not to slaughter, though I may be slaughtered. My purpose is to look at things through new eyes, untainted by culture and what people try to impose on me. If that is threatening... then, this time, I'm not sorry.

As an adoptee, I've been forced to swallow gossamer truths to help other people feel more comfortable around me. When I look back, I'm astounded by the LACK of emotional labor extended at my expense. It is as if I was trained to be a non-entity, to have no impact, to be only pleasing... [not to say only me, but I'm speaking for me].

It pains me to think about all of the lessons I had to learn on my own. I was horrible at figuring things out- but could you blame me?  I was afraid to do anything wrong but I didn't know what was right either. All I knew was that I was one step closer to being marginalized.

How do you tell someone to "pick themselves up by their boot straps" when no one offers the support? How can you judge someone who was never told what to expect and what was expected of them? How do you listen to your child cry and not offer comfort?

I remember telling my mother: "L told me she doesn't have to like me." Let's be fair and assume I just don't REMEMBER what my mom said, but it was not anything enough for me to reject that pain. And by the same token, I'm told my society and family- accept everyone else and treat them well.

I remember my father telling me "How could you do this [ruin] our family!" and it still echos today. And maybe it stung more because my biological father [to my limited memory] was not a part of my life; it would be easy to assume he thought I was a downer in his life as well. Was I supposed to be sorry, that time? Was I supposed to be sorry for something that other children do and never question their place in a family? Was there something obvious about me that made it DIFFERENT when it involved non-entity me?

I'm not sorry for being different. I'm not sorry for offering different ideas. I'm NOT sorry for living, existing, breathing too loud, not conforming, for NOT being hush-hush, for "making" you feel uncomfortable. Arrows are fine as long as they are directed at me, the orphan, the marginalized one- RIGHT? If you want more dirt on me, I will share with you how imperfect I am. I have nothing to hide.

In order to claim anything about me, you should first know me; spend time with me; ask me; listen to me; open your mind to me. But I really don't know many people who can say they've done this. I HOPE that before anyone makes claims on other people that they truly know who and what they are talking about. Oh wait, isn't that the definition of prejudice? Judging without knowing? It's funny how many people know us that we don't even know.
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If we're going to say anything blindly- I pray that it is something that is kind and charitable. If we're going to think about someone, let's not think about just that ONE MOMENT and wonder about the rest of their life. I pray that we know that anything that is worth standing for WILL be persecuted. I pray that we are prepared spiritually and mentally to do what we have learned and grown to know what is right. I pray that we will not strive to conform but to be ourselves the way God intended us to be.  Acceptance is not granted through conformity, it is granted through genuine love and value for who you are, uniquely. Don't choke on that lie.

And for my Christian brothers and sisters: remember how unpopular Jesus' followers have been throughout time? Expect the good fight for the Glory of God.  The more you stand out to the world [differently] the closer you are in your walk with Jesus. Hallelujah!


Here I am Again

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